This is a guest blog from Bryan Mac Murray, Disability Benefits Outreach
If you’re currently receiving Veteran’s Administration (VA) disability benefits, you may also be entitled to disability through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Combined VA and SSA benefits can help ease the financial burden for you and your family when disability prevents or reduces earnings from employment.
VA Disability vs. Social Security Disability
Although disabled veterans can receive VA and Social Security benefits at the same time, different agencies or administrations still pay these benefits. In other words, the VA and SSA issue monthly benefits separately.
The VA also pays benefits commiserate with level of disability, so recipients that are 100% Permanently and Totally Disabled (100% P & T) receive higher monthly payments than those with a 60% or 40% disability rating, for example. The SSA however bases disability payments on your average earnings from your work history record.
There are additionally some differences in qualification rules for VA verses Social Security disability. Veterans can be partially disabled and still receive disability from the VA. In order to qualify for Social Security disability though, your impairment either must prevent employment completely or must stop you from participating in “substantial gainful activity.” This means the SSA only approves benefits for people with a severe impairment that stops them from earning a living.
These separate qualification processes mean some veterans can get VA disability but won’t qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The SSA however rarely, if ever, deny benefits for veterans that are 100% P & T, as long as the veteran meets all other SSDI eligibility requirements.
How the SSA Handles Veterans’ Applications
If your VA disability rating status is 100% P & T, then you qualify for special review procedures with the SSA. When you apply for SSDI, you’ll just need to provide a copy of your VA disability rating documents. The SSA’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) can then expedite the review of your claim and get you a decision on your eligibility for SSDI benefits in just a few weeks.
Veterans with other disability ratings must proceed through the standard review process with the SSA instead. Unfortunately, this means you may have months between submitting your application and when you receive a final decision on your SSDI eligibility.
Starting Your Social Security Disability Claim
The SSA makes the SSDI application available online. Many people chose this method for applying since it allows them to take their time, save their application, and submit it only when they’re sure they’ve filled out all forms and submitted the necessary paperwork as accurately and completely as possible.
You can also apply at the local SSA field office, with or without an appointment. Keep in mind though that the branch you visit may be busy and you may have to schedule an appointment and return on a later date. Appointments are scheduled in advance sometimes by calling 1-800-772-1213, though this SSA main helpline is often quite busy as well.
Whether you apply online or at the local office, be sure to submit copies of your rating documents via mail or in person to the local SSA branch. Send these just as soon as you submit your SSDI application, especially you’re 100% P & T, since this will send your disability application into the expedited review process with the SSA.
This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disability-benefits-help.org or by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org.